By Simeon Wright at Grosvenor Vale
“We’re in a lot of trouble.”
Those are the words Gavin Rose used following Dulwich Hamlet’s defeat away at Wealdstone, on a Saturday afternoon that saw their relegation worries deepen.
The Hamlet had led through Jeffrey Monakana’s first-half penalty, but a two-minute second-half turnaround from top-of-the-table Wealdstone, compounded elsewhere by a win for last-placed Hungerford Town, means Dulwich are outside the bottom two on goal difference alone.
Hungerford’s three points also closes their distance to Rose’s side to six points, and the Berkshire club concerningly have two games in hand. Rose admitted that the time has come to take the threat of the drop very seriously.
Dulwich host Hemel Hempstead this Saturday.
“We’re goal difference away from being in the bottom two, so we’re in a lot of trouble,” Rose said.
“Our main thing is to focus on our next game, trying to win the next game, and that’s the only thing we will do.”
The manager has called on his players to concentrate more in order to see out matches. Dulwich have lost a number of games from winning positions this campaign, most of which have been by one-goal margins.
They are frustrations for Rose.
He added: “I think that’s the fifteenth game we’ve lost by the odd goal, and invariably it goes down to concentration, like [Saturday]. Will to see out a draw, will to see out a win, and we’ve folded a lot of times in games.
“That’s the reason why we’re down there. There isn’t a lot in it with our performances.”
With 34 games played and eight more to come, factors like fatigue and discomposure might be tipping the balance of results.
At Wealdstone, key players Christian Smith and leading goal-scorer Danny Mills were also both taken off by Rose due to minor injuries, before the hosts’ second-half fightback.
“They’re a team trying to win the league and we knew they would come out and continue playing with a high press, a lot of good football, and we’re defending a lead trying to survive,” Rose continued.
“We knew that would happen, but the goals have come really from two set-plays, positions that we’d expect to do well from, especially with our physicality.
“I wouldn’t say it was because they opened us up, I would say that we switched off twice and they scored two crucial goals.”
Smith had lined up in the centre of midfield with Quade Taylor, but his impressive defensive work was cut short after the break.
Rose explained: “He had a knock in the first half but was starting to run out of legs as well, and wasn’t covering the pitch as well as he had done as the game wore on.
“Quade was a shield and he was in front of him, but yes he went off because he ran out of legs.
“Danny had an ankle injury in the first half and continued playing on in that half, but it started to flare up and he couldn’t move anymore.”
After the Hamlet face Hemel Hempstead on Saturday, they have a seismic clash away to St Albans – who are one league place below them in the league – the following week.